NIH Program Completes Genomic Analysis of 33 Cancer Types

Researchers announced the completion of the PanCancer Atlas, a National Institutes of Health (NIH)–funded, detailed genomic analysis of molecular and clinical information collected from more than 10,000 tumors, representing 33 cancers.

“This project is the culmination of more than a decade of groundbreaking work,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. “This analysis provides cancer researchers with unprecedented understanding of how, where, and why tumors arise in humans, enabling better-informed clinical trials and future treatments.”

Results of the PanCancer Atlas were published as a collection of 27 papers in Cell. The PanCancer Atlas is divided into three main categories: cell of origin, oncogenic processes, and oncogenic pathways.

The first summary paper details a set of analyses of molecular clustering, which groups tumors by parameters such as genes being expressed, abnormality of chromosome numbers in tumor cells, and DNA modifications. The findings suggest that tumor types cluster by their possible cells of origin.

The second summary paper presents a broad view of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) findings on the processes that lead to cancer development and progression. The researchers identified three oncogenic processes: mutations, both germline and somatic; the influence of the tumor’s underlying genome and epigenome on gene and protein expression; and the interaction between tumor and immune cells.

The third summary paper details TCGA investigations into the genomic alterations in the signaling pathways that control cell cycle progression, cell death, and cell growth. The findings revealed new patterns in the potential vulnerabilities of malignancies.

The researchers hope that these findings could lead to the development of new and personalized treatment options.

Source: National Cancer Institute press release, April 5, 2018.